Please join the Dell TechCenter’s featured guests as we discuss Dell’s PowerVault NX3500 storage solution. Joining us on the chat to cover the technical aspects of PowerVault NX3500 will be:

John Mannix - Product Marketing Manager
Oliver, Kaven - Product Consultant
Marcelo Vinante - Storage Engineer
Ali Elwakhi - Storage Engineer
Dennis Lattka - Sr. Storage Development Engineer

Technical Community - Background Reading


Dell TechCenter PowerVault NX3500 Page

Dell PowerVault NX3500 Product Page


Chat Transcript




Dell-DennisS OK, so today's chat is on the Dell PowerVault NX3500.
Dell-DennisS I see we have Dennis Lattka and Kenneth Nail in the room.
dennis_lattka :-).
Dell-DennisS I will hand it over to Dell_pg_dev to give us a little background on the Dell PowerVault NX3500.
kenneth_nail :-).
Dell_PG_Dev The Dell PowerVault NX3500 gives customers integrated access to block and file data with built-in data protection features like snapshots and replication. It’s an excellent solution for consolidating storage for user shares and Exchange files and for PowerVault customers who want to migrate from Windows-based file servers. And the NX3500 is also ideal for smaller virtualized environments with increasing NFS storage requirements. It’s the first implementation of Dell’s scalable file system and has no architectural limits to file-system size which gives customers more flexibility than traditional unified storage.
bsousapt Nice "marketing" copy/paste Dell_pg_dev :).
Dell-JeffS :).
Dell-DennisS We also have an overview page on the Dell TechCenter www.delltechcenter.com/page/dell+powervault+nx3500.
bsousapt If I'm allowed, I would like to ask some questions, and some of you guys already know me for being a guy with some questions :).
Dell-DennisS @bsousapt: Sure, ask away.
bsousapt Good.
Dell-DennisS By the way, behind Dell_pg_dev we have John Mannix, product marketing manager, Oliver Kaven, product consultant, and Marcelo Vinante, storage engineer.
bsousapt Now as a Dell customer (Dell EqualLogic user here), how can I “explain” to my management that I'm looking for a NAS solution from Dell that doesn't use Dell EqualLogic as a backend SAN? :).
abartlett I'll add a few questions in after bsousapt gets done.
bsousapt Is the new Dell Scalable File System (DSFS) a complete new file system? If so, how does it work with the infamous file-system checks in case of crashes?
bsousapt @abartlett: Thanks :).
Dell_PG_Dev The NX3500 is the first member of the family that will use DSFS and you are correct, it uses MD3200i or MD3600i as backend.
Dell_PG_Dev The next product, the Dell EqualLogic FS7500 is an EqualLogic array that will introduce NAS capability to existing EqualLogic Arrays.
Dell_PG_Dev All managed through the same GM interface as the existing EqualLogic arrays, there will be a new tab that will manage all the NAS features.
bsousapt I mean, is there a technical reason for not using an EqualLogic to provide iSCSI devices to this NAS device?
Dell_PG_Dev The NX3500 can introduce you to the features since it is using the same file system.
abartlett First up: why would I buy an NX3500 over say, a NetApp FAS2020 or FAS2040? Knowing the Dell PowerVault MD3200i/MD3600i pricing, the NetApp is probably cheaper and has de-duplication (which this doesn't seem to).
Dell_PG_Dev The DSFS is a new file system in the sense that is not NTFS, Windows or Linux. It is part of the IP acquisition of Exanet a year ago.
abartlett Or even an EMC VNXI—similar pricing to NetApp (may or may not do as much).
dennis_lattka Think of the FS7500 as an add-on feature set that will give NFS and CIFS capabilities to the iSCSI EqualLogic SAN.
bsousapt @abartlett: Good one.
bsousapt Dennis, any date you may share?
bsousapt And the FS7500 will also use the DSFS?
Dell-DennisS Dell Scalable File System Whitepaper can be found at www.dell.com/nx3500.
bsousapt I'm honest as a Dell customer, I'm getting some "troubles" to understand the strategy here for iSCSI SAN is Dell going to EqualLogic or the MD thing?
Dell_PG_Dev There are many advantages for NX3500 over NetApp, performance, scalability, and no limitation on the file size or share size.
bsousapt @Dell-dennis: I think I read all papers of the NX3500 already :).
Dell_PG_Dev @bsousapt: Yes, the FS7500 will use DSFS too.
Dell-DennisS @bsousapt: LOL, good bedtime reading :).
bsousapt @dell_pg_dev: Do you have any benchmark docs?
bsousapt @dennis: You bet! That and the Dell EqualLogic replication whitepaper thing, awesome doc!
Dell_PG_Dev @bsousapt: NX500 is a SMB entry level that complements the MD3200i or MD3600i block arrays. It uses a WebUI for NAS management and a separate UI for block.
Dell-DennisS @bsousapt: Thanks! We love the feedback and give us a better opinion to get relevant content out.
Dell_PG_Dev For EqualLogic arrays, the FS7500 will have a single interface, additional scalability of nodes (up to four in the first release) and additional storage scalability (up to half PB in the first release) than the NX3500.
bsousapt @dell_pg_dev: Can I assume that Dell strategy for NAS will be based on the DSFS?
bsousapt Hmm, so NX3500 is "lower" specs than the future FS7500?
bsousapt The specs look fine, but I see no reference to de-duplication, data compression , data-tiering.
bsousapt Future inclusion?
Dell-PG_OK De-duplication, compression and tiering are future roadmap items.
abartlett A benchmark is nice. In my opinion, the NetApp is plenty fast with SATA disks unless you're really pounding it with VMware loads.
Dell_PG_Dev We do have some and others on the way. You can ask your sales rep for visibility under NDA. In a nutshell, based on our own SPEC SFS testing we have a performance advantage when comparing the NX3500 and NetApp2020.
bsousapt @abartlett: Long live cache :).
Dell-DennisS We'll try to get some of those benchmark docs out on Dell TechCenter too. Check back on the NX3500 wiki.
Dell_PG_Dev (Last answer was for bsousapt).
bsousapt @dell_pg_dev: SATA-based benchmarks?
bsousapt @dell-dennis: That would be interesting to see.
Dell_PG_Dev @Bsousapt: We actually compared SAS HD vs. NetApp Fibre Channel Harddrive (FC HD).
bsousapt Hmm, interesting.
abartlett Hmm, you can get SAS in the FAS2020 chassis.
abartlett Not as an add-on but in the built-in.
abartlett Partly NetApp shop here.
bsousapt However, the FAS 2020 is not the best thing out there, but OK :).
abartlett We have one. It's all right, but I'd buy an FAS 2040 if I was buying one today.
abartlett Only nice thing is you can get one pretty cheap if you just need file stores.
Dell_PG_Dev I cannot speak for NetApp. The system we have has FC HD in the NetApp. Our NX3500 can have SAS or NLSAS.
Dell-PG_OK Our benchmarks were running against 2040.
bsousapt Ah, nice :).
abartlett Cool. Any VNXI comparisons?
Dell-PG_OK Not yet.
abartlett Cool.
Dell-PG_OK We are waiting for VNXE to get a little runway before we do head to head.
abartlett Just running through the competition. If you can speak to it, any possibility we'd ever see a de-duplication or compression function here.
bsousapt I have some older HP-UX that support only a volume of 999 GB (yeah I know, weird stuff). Can I create a volume like 2TB and "expose" the size of only 999GB to a certain range of hostnames/IPs?
Dell-PG_OK De-dupe is on the roadmap.
abartlett Yeah the EMC vendor that was calling me really wanted to sell one bad, the Dell EqualLogic pricing I got from Dell was better for more performance.
abartlett Thanks, Dell-pg_ok.
bsousapt @Dell-pg_ok: Any bench with BlueArc?
Dell-PG_OK No BlueArc performance comparison.
bsousapt Regarding the Dell file system, is it somehow comparable with Lustre, GFS, OCFS2?
Dell-PG_OK We will do additional competitive tests once we isolate specific competitors.
Dell_PG_Dev To bsoupapt: there is no limit on the size of the NAS Volume(s) you can create or the share in the NAS volume(s). If you choose to, you could create a single NAS Volume with a single share that extends the entire size. Dell PowerVault NX3500 all 192TB could be used as single access point.
bsousapt Yes, I understand that.
Dell-PG_OK @bsousapt: What are you looking for as specific file system features for Lustre, etc.?
bsousapt But can I present a sub-volume with a reported size of 999GB to some hostnames/IPs?
bsousapt @dell-pg_ok: Just trying to understand what kind of technical bits are we having here.
Dell-PG_OK @bsousapt: Just to mention a few things about DSFS (Exanet) technology. DSFS will scale to the capabilities of the backend storage, has auto-correcting features that continuously monitor the file system integrity (no lengthy check-disk-type delays after a crash), etc.
abartlett With the NX3500, do I keep some of the block functionality if I need it or is it pure file only?
abartlett Since it's got iSCSI as the back end protocol.
bsousapt @dell-pg_ok: Nice feature.
Dell-PG_OK @abartlett: NX3500 is file only, but keep in mind that you connect to MD3X as a backend, so you will have native iSCSI through the MD.
abartlett Awesome.
bsousapt Question: Each NX3500 has a VIP, so if I have two NX3500 (production and disaster-recovery) and does the fail-over/fail-back mechanism works?
Dell-PG_OK This is nice because it is not emulated iSCSI.
bsousapt Assuming the product NX3500 VIP is 1.1.1.3 and the DR 3500 VIP is 2.2.2.3, how can I address this issue from my NFS client’s point of view?
bsousapt Would I need to go to all my clients and do unmount/mount all NFS shares?
Dell_PG_Dev @bsousapt: NX3500 is two nodes. In FS7500 it will be up to four. No matter how many, the FS is a single name space. There is one VIP for the all system. The VIP will load balance to the node(s) behind the scenes. The customer can create as many VIP as needed to present the system/FS in other subnets, etc.
Dell-PG_OK @bsousapt: pg-dev is working on typing an answer ;-).
bsousapt If I understand right, each NX3500 has something like a "cluster-in-a-box" solution.
bsousapt With two servers.
szlevi Thanks Dennis.
Dell_PG_Dev (Continued) On the initial setup you do, specify the IPs for the nodes and the VIP(s). You can use different methods depending on your environment for load balancing, from round robin to other switch technology.
bsousapt So if I want High-Availability (HA) and Data-Replication (DR) would I need four servers?
bsousapt Or could I just use two MD3XXX arrays, each connected to one single server, where each server is located in a different datacenter, connected over (in my case) a dual 10GBE link?
Dell_PG_Dev You can create a VIP in the 1.1.1.3 and a different VIP to the same system in the 2.2.2.3. Or you can set up two NX3500 with two separate FS and IPs, one in each subnet.
szlevi I have one question: I was waiting for these NAS clusters since January when I was told I *will* have an option to connect my FC 4 SAN unit to one of these NAS clusters once they are out—so which one is it? As far as I can tell, neither NX3500 nor FS7500 will. Accept any FC storage, which means I will have to wait until Dell is willing to upgrade its NX3000 to Storage Server R2?
bsousapt And by two NX3500 we actually mean four servers and two iSCSI arrays, right?
Dell_PG_Dev @szlevi: NX3500 and FS7500 are iSCSI backend only. And only to the specific kind (NX to MD, and FS to EqualLogic).
Dell-PG_OK joined.
Dell_PG_Dev @szlevi: The NX3000 R2 upgrade is in the works and will be released later this year.
szlevi PS: Currently I'm running a PS5610E with 2X R815 clustered for Hyper-v and got two vanilla NX300 which I cannot cluster.
bsousapt @dell_pg_dev: I understand that I can use a VIP per NX3500
szlevi Wow, that's a bummer: R2 Storage Server is out since last October—and HP has released its updated version in last November.
Dell-PG_OK @szlevi: Unfortunately, MSFT does not support upgrades from existing.
bsousapt But my clients (Linux, Unix boxes) will connect to one VIP.
Dell_PG_Dev @bsousapt: The minimum configuration is one NX3500 (which means 3Us two nodes and a Bps) and one MD iSCSI array.
szlevi What takes this long for Dell to upgrade them to Storage Server R2 I cannot imagine?
bsousapt So if I need to fail to my DR site, all my hosts will need to unmount from the VIP prod and mount to VIP DR?
bsousapt Or am I missing something?
szlevi Even if it's not supported, is there any way to use a direct-attached SAN in these new NAS clusters? I mean you got to enable it at some point if you want to move data between EqualLogic and Compellent units or share stuff through the NAS heads.
Dell_PG_Dev @bsousapt: If you set up two systems, yes, seems like they are in different sites. You can also replicate from one to the other NX. The destination is available online as a read-only copy.
szlevi PS: Direct-attached FC SAN, I meant.
Dell-PG_OK It is not that we take longer than other vendors because we are sitting on our hands :-). But we are taking a probably much more detailed approach from an engineering and testing cycle. For example, we had determined in previous models that iSCSI does not work well with Enterprise version and decided to not offer it.
Dell-PG_OK These decisions are based on testing and take time.
bsousapt @dell_pg_dev: From the docs, a NX3500 has three components.
szlevi You are offering Enterprise version, it is HP who does not offer Standard anymore.
bsousapt Two servers and a backup battery.
Dell_PG_Dev @bsousapt: Correct.
Dell-PG_OK @szlevi: We are offering Enterprise but not with iSCSI target.
abartlett Sadly you might try rolling your own NAS appliance, szlevi. Not many good offerings in the FC NAS appliance space that don't cost boocoo bucks.
bsousapt Could I put head-node 0 in my production site with a MD attached to it, head-node one in my DR site with another MD attached to it, create a VIP across those two head-nodes, and make replication from my Production to DR site and in case of disaster I would only need to put the DR MD from a read-only to read/write?
Dell-PG_OK @abarlett: Dell Compellent offers FC today and will going forward.
Dell-PG_OK Boocoo bucks, maybe.
Dell-PG_OK Keep in mind that rolling your own often does not come with the same reliability and support as off the shelf.
szlevi Oh, I do not need iSCSI target, nothing.
Dell_PG_Dev @bsousapt: Both nodes need to be in the same site/location. Not a global name space. Single name space with replication as option to other two nodes.
szlevi I just need clustered Storage Server R2 to use as my NAS with both my EqualLogic and FC volumes mounted and shared through CIFS.
bsousapt OK, I was aiming for a "namespace" across two datacenters, and by two datacenters I mean two sites connected with 10GBE.
bsousapt So to get HA and DR, I need two NX3500 (each NX3500 has three devices) and two MDXXX.
abartlett @Dell-pg_ok: I agree, just saying if the market isn't meeting the need at your price. I figure Dell or someone will meet it soon as places start to want to reuse older FC investments cheaply as they are replaced in tier-1 apps with IP stores.
szlevi So let me rephrase: When can I get a unit from Dell that offers fault-tolerant NAS shares (e.g., DFS namespaces etc.) supporting both my Dell EqualLogic PS6510E via iSCSI and my DDN volumes via FC4?
szlevi And forget the price for a sec, my 96TB Dell EqualLogic PS6510E was already pricey, it will be much cheaper than that.
Dell-PG_OK @Abartlett: That may well be. Not to toot into our own horn, but we have a small army of engineers on compatibility testing and interoperability testing, so the price is not totally unjustified ;-). Doing it cheaper is always an option, but also always comes with drawbacks.
Dell_PG_Dev The FS7500 will be able to utilize current and past EqualLogic PS arrays.
bsousapt Any timeframe for the release of the FS7500?
Dell-PG_OK @bsousapt: For DR you need two NX3500 (each NX3500 is three components: two controllers and one battery unit).
abartlett Dell-pg_ok: Fully concur. The old adage "No one ever got fired for buying <other vendor>" always rings true.
Dell_PG_Dev @bsousapt: Later this year.
bsousapt dell_pg_dev: From a hardware point of view, it's clear to me the needs for a DR NX3500 solution.
szlevi So is there such a unit for me, see my previous two posts?
bsousapt I’m trying to see from a logical/IT procedures point of view.
abartlett I will say since it's out in this chat, our decision to buy Dell EqualLogic storage was made easier by the FS7500 coming out.
bsousapt What would happen if by any reason my production NX3500 is fully down?
Dell-DennisS Great questions guys, we have just a few more minutes remaining. Get your last minute questions in :).
bsousapt Would I need to go to all my NFS clients unmount the current NFS served by the VIP of the primary NX3500 and mount it to the VIP of my DR site?
bsousapt Or would it be a way to create a VIP on top of a VIP? ;)
Dell-PG_OK szlevi: We have a long list of roadmap items for the next few quarters. Unified and converged storage from a protocol and management level. It would be too early to give out dates at this point.
bsousapt So each NX3500 has a VIP, and then a VIP across two NX3500s ;).
Dell-PG_OK @bsousapt: Yes.
Dell-DennisS We've reached our hour time limit, thank you guys for all the great questions and thanks to the Dell PV engineering team for participating in the chat.
bsousapt If there's any document with a technical design that includes a NX3500 solution including DR scenarios, please let me know.
bsousapt @dell-pg_ok: Thanks for all the time spent answering my questions.
abartlett Thanks folks.
bsousapt And the same goes for dell-pg_dev.
Dell-DennisS Next week's chat will be on the DX Object Storage platform.
Dell-PG_OK My pleasure. We will see if there were any unanswered questions and follow up. I believe we are also going to point to some docs. Was a pleasure talking with you guys.
Dell-DennisS Hope to see you all again next week.
bsousapt Well I might be the launching customer at Holland so I hope I'm doing a mistake :).
Dell-DennisS Check back on the Dell TechCenter NX3500 wiki. (www.delltechcenter.com/page/dell+powervault+nx+3500) for updated links to docs.
bsousapt Or at least an early customer.
Dell_PG_Dev Thank everyone, great questions.
Dell-PG_OK @bsousapt: We welcome you with open arms ;-).
bsousapt Well don't let me fall down :).
bsousapt I got a real nice tech talk today with someone at London already.
bsousapt So let's see what the future holds.
bsousapt For wrap up, in case of tech questions, the best way is still to put them via my sales rep?
Dell-DennisS @bsousapt: Feel free to send me a message on Dell TechCenter, Twitter, or post in the TechCenter forum area and we'll try to get you the answer.
Dell-DennisS @dennismsmith on Twitter.
bsousapt I hope you know what are putting yourself into I might "spam" you a lot :).
Dell-DennisS LOL.
Dell-DennisS Just another way to let us know the content customers want.
bsousapt Oh, if you want customer perspective just let me know :). I have a ton of feedback to offer.
Dell-DennisS Haha, we welcome all feedback :D.
Dell-DennisS Help us help you.
bsousapt OK, don't complain later :).
Dell-DennisS Got to run for now, hopefully we'll see you guys next week. Take care.
bsousapt Same to you guys.
bsousapt Take care and thanks for the chat, and for the new product.